Most drivers understand that they can be arrested in all states if they are operating a motorized vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08% of higher. This is considered a per se violation, and the driver can be arrested and charged with drunk driving even if they are not displaying any careless or dangerous driving behaviors.
We occasionally get questions on our forum from drivers who are confused about what type of vehicle constitutes a “motorized vehicle.” One driver wanted to know if it will make a difference if he was operating a motorcycle instead of a car when he was arrested for drunk driving. Although state laws can vary, it will not matter that you are operating a motorcycle instead of a car, this driver can still be arrested and charged with drunk driving.
What is considered a motorized vehicle?
As mentioned above, state laws vary, but we will discuss what the California Vehicle Code considers a vehicle. According to the Chapter 670 a vehicle can be, “A device by which any person or property may be propelled, moved or drawn upon a highway, excepting a device moved exclusively by human power or used exclusively upon stationary rails or tracks.”
As with many statutes and laws there can be some confusion and ambiguity which is clarified in case law. For example in Tomson v. Kischassey, it was decided that a bicycle was not considered a vehicle as long as it did not have a motor. Although in People v. Jordan, it was decided that if the bicycle had a motor it would be considered a vehicle.
The courts also decided that a wheelchair is not a vehicle although a tractor and a golf court can be considered a vehicle even though they travel at very low speeds. Generally, most states contend that if the vehicle has a motor that moves the vehicle on its own it can be considered a “motorized vehicle” as defined under DUI statute.
Arrested for drunk driving on a motor cycle, what next?
Whether you are arrested for drunk driving on a motorcycle, car, or boat, it is time to talk to a drunk driving lawyer. Steps may need to be immediately taken to challenge an administrative driver’s license suspension in many states. Administrative penalties may allow the Department of Motor vehicles (or comparable agency) to suspend your driver’s license for a refusal to take the chemical test or a failure of the chemical test regardless of whether or not you are ultimately convicted of DUI.
Criminal penalties for drunk driving vary and the DUI penalties you are facing for drunk driving on a motorcycle may include high fines, court costs, probation, suspended license, mandatory alcohol education courses or an installation of an ignition interlock device.
Drunk driving penalties have become more severe in recent years as lobbying groups such as Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and other groups have petitioned the states for more severe DUI penalties. Do not try to fight this charge without legal help.
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